Review: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire, ARC

Filed in Review , Seanan McGuire , The Obsessed Lover Posted on March 1, 2010 @ 9:25 pm 1 comments
Format Read: ARC – Paperback
Number of Pages: 377 pages
Release Date: March 2, 2010 (Tomorrow!)
Publisher: DAW
Formats Available: Paperback
Purchasing Info: Good Reads, Book Depository, Author’s Website

*Book 2 in the Toby Daye Series: Spoilers may be present if you have not read Book 1 – which I highly recommend!*
Back Cover Text:
October “Toby” Daye is a changeling, the daughter of Amandine of the fae and a mortal man. Like her mother, she is gifted in blood magic, able to read what has happened to a person through a mere taste of blood.
Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, most changelings are second-class children of Faerie spending their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Toby is the only changeling who has earned knighthood, and she re-earns that position every day, undertaking assignments for her liege, Sylvester, the Duke of Shadowed Hills.
Now Sylvester has asked her to go to the County of Tamed Lightning—otherwise known as Fremont, California—to make sure that all is well with his niece, January O’Leary, whom he has not been able to contact. It seems like a simple enough assignment—but when dealing with the realm of Faerie, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. January runs a company that produces computer fantasy games, and her domain is a buffer between Sylvester’s lands and a rival duchy whose ruler is looking for an opportunity to seize control. And that’s the least of January’s problems. For Tamed Lightning has somehow been cut off from the other fiefdoms, and now someone has begun to murder January’s key people. If Toby can’t find and stop the killer soon, she may well become the next victim…
My Thoughts: 

First let me say that I am a huge fan of Seanan McGuire’s debut novel, Rosemary & Rue – you can see my review of that book by clicking here. I am also a huge fan of Toby Daye, the halfling (part Fae/part human), knight/private investigator. I am also absolutely THRILLED that I received a copy of ALH directly from the author, Seanan McGuire!!!! *okay enough fangirl squeeing*

A Local Habitation is just as good as the first Toby Daye book. It didn’t have the same wow factor for me as the first book did but I honestly feel like that is solely because I have already read and loved the first book in the series. I already know and love many of the characters and have an understanding of the universe itself so it is not as mind-blowing. I loved this book, but the feeling was different that when I read the first – this time the story was great but what I really reveled in about this one will be explained at the end. Usually it is the reverse for me – the first book is a good starting basis for a series and then the second wows me, so again – Seanan McGuire has surprised me by being outside what I expect.
It may also be that Tybalt, the King of Cats was not in it enough. I am a huge Tybalt fan and was excited beyond words when he showed up early on in the first chapter, but overall there is just not enough of him for my liking. Of course it is completely possible that there could never be enough of The King of Cats for this reader. Here’s an awesome quote about the nature of cats & fae from the book:          
 “Oberon established the Court of Cats, gave them  political structure outside  the standard Faerie Courts and Kingdoms. They rule themselves, and no political power in Faerie has any say over them.”
I thought it was so awesome because my first thought was, “Ah, well that is the perfect way to explain and describe cat behavior. Like how they don’t listen to anyone unless they feel like it. Well done!”  and later in the book there is another quote that stood out to me about the cats was, ‘That’s the thing about cats they remember a time when there were true faerie kings for them to look at…Cats watch from corners and hearths, and they see history happening and they never forget a minute.’ I’m a cat person so I totally get cats having their own rules and I love the idea of how they remember everything that is or has been. Whether that’s how she meant all of it or not I don’t know yet, but plan to find out. 🙂
One of the really wonderful aspects of this book is how much Toby has grown from the beginning of the first book to this installment. She is not self-absorbed or timid. While I didn’t really feel she was overly self-absorbed in the first book, I read a few reviews of R&R that say she was. She was definitely broken in book one, but even though she has not completely healed her inner scars yet, she not broken in this book. It was a refreshing surprise. Excellent development of the character. 

Toby’s lack of knowledge about current technologies is a nice and important touch because it brings Toby’s 14 lost years into a more palpable reality, making it all more realistic. It also is an huge hindrance for the case she is on, which makes it entertaining as well. I can’t say more than that without venturing into spoiler territory. 

The Toby Daye Series is an Urban Fantasy series by virtue of the fact that it is about the Fae living among us in plain sight yet unseen by us. However, at it’s core this series is a Murder Mystery/Thriller series with a classic P.I./Detective style and a P.I. who happens to be a halfling Knight. I am not saying that in anyway as a bad thing. I love both genres myself and many UF novels lean in the direction of a classic style told with mythic creatures…think Harry Dresden. (Yes, I know our own HEA Lover made the same comparison earlier today, but when it fits it fits.) It’s this type of story that has so much reality in it that makes me wonder if they aren’t really right there just beyond our perceptions, where if we really looked with our whole attention we would suddenly see what has been there all along. (What don’t look at me like that! Tell me you haven’t thought of it before?!) As Mulder used to say, “I want to believe.”
There is a film-noir quality to this installment of Toby’s adventures especially. The faerie in it adds an additional layer of intrigue to the story. If the imagery wasn’t so vivid and colors so important to the universe I could almost picture it as a gritty black & white film. Or even like the movie “Sin City” which is a work of art in my humble opinion…So if it is made into a movie my vote is that they get Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller to direct it. 
Where A Local Habitation becomes art is that while it has so much that speaks to a classic detective story, you feel like you have fallen down the rabbit hole at the same time. The two divergent feelings co-exist with neither completely canceling the other out. You lose yourself in this wonderland, continuing to look for clues and nothing seems outragous. The mythical and the dark realism flow seamlessly one into the other. By the end you are left with a feeling of being trapped inside the haunted house in a classic horror flick. That my friends, is art.
The only thing that bothered me about the book besides, how little Tybalt was physically there, was that there was little to no mention of her daughter. That seems wrong, especially considering the story line of this book. Still the emotions running through Toby in several critical scenes does allude to her feelings and lacking relationship with her daughter. 
Overall, as I am sure you can tell from this insanely long review – I really and thoroughly enjoyed A Local Habitation and I can’t wait for the next book An Artificial Night to come out in September! 

Happy Release Day, Seanan!!! Thank you for sending me a copy yourself!

And with that I can go read everyone elses reviews of ALH that I refused to read until I had read and reviewed it myself. I wanted my thoughts to be honest and 100% my own and that is just what they are. Can’t wait to go see what everyone else thought!!! 
5 Bookies for A Local Habitation. 
(Thank goodness because it would have sucked to have had to give it less and if it was less I would have given it less.)
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

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  • Melissa (My words and pages) March 3, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Well, I think I am going to have to get the first book and this one at the store here some time soon. This sounds like an outstanding read and something I would truly enjoy. Thanks for the wonderful review!

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